While paternity tests have always been available through doctors and online, Boots have now started selling over-the-counter paternity tests to anyone with £30-something to spend (add another amount, starting at £129.00 for the actual lab testing and results).
Boots say they take support and counselling very seriously and customers considering a paternity test “should think carefully about the repercussions of an unexpected result and the impact it may have on any child involved.”
I asked my husband whether he had ever considered a paternity test and he said no – what else was he going to say? “Yes, now pass the potatoes please”? Not likely, I guess. And after our daughter's birth there was really no doubt about who the daddy was – it took a while for her to show any signs of looking like me at all!
The 'up' side is that no one can test you or your child without your permission - in an attempt to avoid 'motherless testing', each participant will need to consent for their DNA to be tested and will need to support this with a copy of identification. The results will then be sent to the named person on the consent form.
Zoe Williams, in the Guardian, wrote that “the trust that keeps couples together makes most investigations obsolete”. While this is true, isn't it a rather sad indictment of society that having DNA tests readily available is even necessary?
On the one hand, transparency is great, and necessary – but on the other, there seems so much room for damage. I know I'd be mortally offended if my husband insisted on a paternity test, despite knowing full well that I have no reason to fear the results.
Could insistence on a test not create as many problems in a relationship as the possible – as Boots puts it – unexpected results? I think so. And I'm entirely not sure that it's all together a good idea, as in the end, it's once again the children that will suffer the most.